Which crash helmet manufacturer makes the safest helmets?
We’ve scoured the SHARP crash helmet testing data to find out which helmet brands are the ones you can trust – the ones that’ll give you the best protection in an accident.
Only SHARP testing data gives comparative scores so we can see how well helmets perform relative to each other. So that’s what we use. It’s not perfect and some brands are excluded (read more in the methodology section at the bottom) but it’s the best we’ve got.
So, here are the results of our latest survey – using data from 2010-18 and showing which are the safest crash helmet brands. If you’re after a new helmet and haven’t got time to read our reviews, you might want to consider one of these brands.
Note. On this page, we’ve only shown brands available to buy in the US. However, the SHARP scheme tests many helmet brands not widely available in the US, so if you want to see our top ten covering more unusual brands like Caberg, MT and Nitro, you can find our alternative top 10 list over on our UK site.
No.1 – Bell Helmets
For the third year running, Bell Helmets are at number one. Of the 12 helmets tested by SHARP so far, 8 have scored the maximum 5/5 stars. That’s amazing going by anyone’s standards. But there’s been a slight fly in the ointment this year in that they’ve had one or two slightly shaky SHARP ratings over recent tests (though their most recently reviewed helmet – the Bell Star – punched back with a maximum 5 star rating). But could it be that we’re starting to see Bell’s crown slip a little? Only time will tell. You can read all our Bell helmet reviews here.
No.2 – AGV
At number 2 is Italian helmet manufacturer AGV. AGV has been making very fine helmets since 1947 and, of course, they’re known for be-lidding the hallowed head of Valentino himself – and let’s face it, he’s not going to put just any old helmet on now is he? Actually, he might if the price is right. But anyway, of twenty one helmets tested, seven scored a maximum five stars and thirteen scored a very commendable four. Wowzers – good job AGV. You can find our AGV helmet reviews here.
No.3 – Shark
A very solid showing for French maker, Shark Helmets. Six Shark helmets have scored the maximum 5/5 stars and seventeen 4/5 stars to date. Only a couple of helmets have dropped the ball a little with the Shark Spartan being their only current helmet that’s scored 3 stars – so an amazing job from the French helmet masters. Click this link to check out all our Shark helmet reviews.
No.4 – Shoei
Shoei are known for producing more expensive, well-built helmets at the top end of the market. All of which shows in their solid ranking in our safety review. If we’re honest, we probably expected Shoei to come out even a little higher still, but with their twelve tested helmets scoring either three stars or above, and with five scoring the maximum 5/5 stars (including the X-Fourteen and the RF-SR), it’s a great performance from Shoei. Check out our Shoei helmet reviews here.
No.5 – Nolan
Dropping a place in 2018 is the daddy of the Nolan group brands – Nolan itself. Every single one of the twelve tested Nolan helmets has scored 4/5 stars in the SHARP safety test. Just Wow. What’s also notable is that each of their tested flip-up helmets scored 100% when it came to keeping their chin bar fully locked – which really isn’t easy to do. That’s a real testament to their design, manufacturing and quality control excellence. For all our Nolan helmet articles, look here.
No.6 – Lazer
It’s nice to see Lazer helmets doing so well in our top 10 – but then they should do, having been making helmets in Belgium for around 100 years! Of the 15 helmets SHARP tested, they scored an average of 4 stars. Not only that, except for the 2 star Lazer Tornado and 3 star Osprey (we’ll forget about those shall we?), every one of their helmets has scored either four or five stars. That’s an amazing – and consistent – output of safe helmets. Nice one Lazer! Check out our Lazer helmet reviews here.
No.7 – Arai
Staying at number seven is Japanese-made Arai. Widely regarded as one of the last words in motorcycle helmet quality (and price!), as we’ve seen before, that doesn’t necessarily correlate to making the safest crash helmets overall. However, it is worth noting that, while their average rating from all thirteen crash helmet tests is 3.6/5 stars (which is up a little from 2017), that figure has been pushed up even further by their most recent tests showing that things might be improving still further. Fingers crossed. You can read our Arai articles and reviews here.
No.8 – LS2
Looking at the SHARP data, it seems Chinese maker LS2 has been steadily building themselves a decent reputation for producing safe helmets, with an average score across the tested range of 3.3/5 stars. Out of fourteen helmets tested so far, seven have scored 4 stars which is good going and 8th position, one behind Arai, is amazing going for this relative newcomer to the helmet market.
No.9 – Scorpion
Dropping from 6th to 9th is as much about other brands upping their games than Scorpion dropping the ball. Seventeen crash helmets have been tested by SHARP so far and they’ve scored an average rating of 3.3/5 stars (down a little from 2017), with the 2 star rated 920 nudging their average down a little. Having said that, it’s a very solid position from the Chinese manufacturer. Look here for our Scorpion helmet reviews.
No.10 – HJC
HJC have had 24 helmets tested by SHARP over the years, and I think it’s fair to say their earlier helmets didn’t perform quite so well as their most recent. Over the years, their average score takes them to 3.2 stars out of five, but if you take their helmets tested in the last couple of years, they’re heading nearer to four stars so it looks like their safety levels are improving nicely. If you’re interested in an HJC helmet, you can see all our HJC reviews here.
Methodology (you might want to skip this bit 🙂 )
Any study like this has it’s drawbacks of course, but hopefully it’s a pretty good snapshot of how safe some of the main helmet brands will perform in an accident, relative to each other.
This table relies on SHARP crash helmet testing data only (covering 2010 to 2018) so it’s never going to be fully comprehensive – especially for the US market where several big brands aren’t touched. And we’ve not included every helmet brand in the list. There’s a few reasons for this. Maybe they’ve not been tested enough to give a reasonably reliable amount of data – or maybe they’ve not been tested at all. Or maybe they’ve so little distribution, that we’ve chosen to leave a brand out. We’ve tended to focus on the main brands – meaning brands that are more widely known and which helmet buyers will want to know about.
Sorry Sparx, Osbe, Halfords and the like.
We left out brands that aren’t widely available in the US or who don’t produce DOT certified helmets. But if you want to see our top 10 that includes these helmets, you can see it on our EU-centric site here.
Our main drawback is the limited number of helmets tested for some brands which may slant the figures – SHARP choose and buy the helmets themselves, so that’s bound to skew the figures. If a brand’s helmets haven’t been chosen for testing, then they won’t appear in our table.
As alluded to above, to avoid sample size skewing, we’ve excluded some brands where a brand hasn’t had a reasonable tested sample size. Why? Well, imagine one brand has 10 helmets tested with an average score of 3 stars, they could be below a brand with just one helmet scoring 4. So because of this, where there’s only a handful of helmets available to score, we’ve usually removed the brand from the survey.
It’s worth pointing out that there are some detractors of the SHARP test too, reckoning that it’s not real world enough. Which may or may not be true. However, we think it’s about as good as it gets – you can read what the test entails here and an analysis of SHARP data here and make your own mind up if you like.
Whatever your point of view, what is going for the SHARP testing regime is that it’s held under controlled circumstances in a laboratory so each helmet should be subject to an identical test – meaning it’s possible to compare the results of each test on each helmet. Yes, agreed, it might not fully simulate the accident where you hit a patch of oil while hanging off your Sportster and bash your helmet on a kerbstone at a 15 degree angle then scrail it down the road for 100 yards, but it does subject the helmet to impacts from multiple sides and show which individual helmets, all things being equal, perform best. So, we reckon it’s about as good information as is available and that’s what we’re basing this analysis on.
The scoring is simple. Where a helmet was awarded five stars, we’ve given it 5 points. Where it scored one star we’ve given it 1 point. We then add up the total number of points and divide it by the number of helmets tested to find the average (mean). We then ordered the list, putting the highest scoring first. In the event of a tie-break, we also looked at helmet scores from the last couple of years – so where two brands have scored the same, we use the scores from their most recent tests to choose a winner.
Phew. Till next time!